Here’s The Main Idea, But I Digress
attended the Region VI National Association of Agricultural Educators
conference in New Haven, CT. As a career
and technical education teacher, staying current with trends in my field are
critical to me so I can be an effective teacher and help prepare my students
for what they might encounter. During
the conference, I was able to be a student while at the same time reflecting on
the 21st Century CTE classroom.
It was interesting to note that just as students can get diverted from
the main idea because a “cool technology tool” pops up, we as teachers
sometimes do the same.
One of the
places I noticed this was in the workshop “Putting STEM in Plant Science.” A main focus of the workshop was how students
would study and design a basic hydroponics system. One of the benefits of CTE
is that we have the chance to help students explore how science, technology,
math and language arts apply to their life.
This hydroponics concept tied in language arts skills with research,
math skills with measuring for the design, science through plant growth
concepts and of course the technology of creating a system that is
functional. During the workshop, we were
challenged to use the materials provided to create a prototype and describe a
participants began diligently working on that challenge, while others, of which
I was one, began to “play” with a technology gadget the presenter had shared, a
NeuLog unit and sensors. Our group
discussed how we could use them to provide a way to help students collect data
without being tethered to a computer. We
explored the different sensors that could be used and brainstormed ways they
could be integrated into our current content.
We experimented with using the data collection options for our phones
and iPads. We shared potential grants or
donor sources that might provide us with the finances to integrate a few of
these in our classroom.
workshop concluded with the hydroponics designers sharing their concepts and
the technology geeks reporting back on some of the possibilities they saw. What I experienced during that workshop is
what CTE students have the opportunity to explore in our classrooms on a
regular basis – the chance to take information they are learning, apply it to
their interests, use the tools that will best help them achieve success, and
practice communication skills to share their knowledge.